Good Schools for All: Breaking Down Barriers for Homeless Youth

Education

Good Schools for All: Breaking Down Barriers for Homeless Youth

San Ysidro School District has reported as much as one-third of its students are homeless — the highest concentration in the region. The district kicked a homeless student out of school over a paperwork issue, despite a federal law meant to ensure access to education for those students.

Willow School / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In late 2019, the San Ysidro School District kicked out a homeless student over a paperwork problem.

Reporter Lisa Halverstadt got a tip from that student’s older sister and followed the story.

For the final episode of Good Schools for All season two, Halverstadt sat down with host Will Huntsberry to talk about that student, how her family got caught off guard by school bureaucracy and what they had to do to make things right — to get the girl back in the classroom.

At the heart of Halverstadt’s story and this episode is a federal law called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. It aims to ensure no barriers exist between homeless students and their education.

Huntsberry took the family’s story to the San Diego County Office of Education’s Susie Terry. She advises schools in the county on how to deal with homeless students. He wanted to find out whether this extra paperwork hurdle was an unnecessary barrier from the school district that the law is designed to prevent.

Terry also talked through the numbers for San Diego on homeless students. She says as of 2019, there were 22,000 homeless students in San Diego County.

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